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Granular Bandwidth E-Line Service
This Ethernet over MPLS bandwidth service offers lower costs and scalable bandwidth options

By: John Shepler

Our experience with private line service has always been with point to point dedicated telecom services, such as T1 lines, DS3 bandwidth, and OC3 fiber optic connections. Now there’s a new service available that gives you all the advantages of traditional private line services with some improvements and better pricing.

E-Line Service
This new network service is called Ethernet Private Line Service, or E-Line. That’s not just a clever marketing term. It’s the official name of the service as defined by the MEF or Metro Ethernet Forum. In other words, E-Line is a standardized Carrier Ethernet service with enterprise level performance in metropolitan and long haul networks.

How Private Lines Work
Let’s take a look a what we expect from a private line service and see how Ethernet Private Line Service measures up. A typical private line is a permanent point to point connection. For that reason, it is sometimes referred to as a “nailed up” connection to differentiate it from a temporary switched service connection such as a telephone call. The private line is truly private. The company that leases the private line expects to have full time exclusive use of the circuit. If they are not sending traffic at the moment, the line idles while it waits for the next burst of traffic.

Typical Private Lines
A very typical implementation of private line service is the T1 point to point connection. A T1 line offers 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth in both directions. It behaves as an empty pipe connecting two locations for voice, data, video or whatever digital service is needed. T1 point to point lines are used to connect branch offices to headquarters, transmit medical images from a clinic to a hospital, or even carry program audio from a radio station studio to the transmitter site. A special arrangement called a “tie line” allows you to connect to PBX telephone systems together.

Higher Bandwidth Applications
Higher bandwidth uses of point to point telecom lines include video transport for production and television broadcast, connecting business information systems, engineering simulation and overnight file backups to remote data centers. You can usually get as much bandwidth as you need for your application. It’s just a matter of price.

Limitations of Traditional Private Lines
What makes private line services expensive is that they must be specifically engineered to meet a particular need. If the link is only across town, it may stay within the footprint of one carrier. But if you want to connect two locations in different states or on opposite coasts, your packets may traverse many different networks to get from point A to point B. That runs up the lease cost and may take a considerable time to install. If you want to change the amount of bandwidth once your connection is in place, the process has to start all over.

Qwest's MPLS Network
Qwest, a major player in the business bandwidth marketplace, is offering a private line service based on the latest technology. They already have in place a core MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) network based on fiber optics using DWDM or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. That gives them the ability to offer 100% committed bandwidth and traffic engineering while being fully MEF certified.

E-Line over MPLS Advantages
The advantages of implementing E-LIne over a pre-provisioned MPLS 10 GigE backbone network are that implementation to connect your locations can be much faster and you can select from a huge range of bandwidth options between 5 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps. This is called granular bandwidth, something difficult or impossible to obtain with traditional telecom services. Those bandwidth options are scalable in the sense that you can generally change your bandwidth level quickly and easily with a call to your service provider.

Where is Qwest iQ E-Line Available?
Qwest calls their new low-latency Ethernet Private Line solution “Qwest iQ E-Line.” It allows for point to point or hub and spoke connections within or between any of their 16 markets that include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sunnyvale, Tampa and Washington DC.

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